Friday, May 23, 2008

Alternative Living, Powelton Village

Going through old papers, I found a CoreStates bank receipt with an address: 3311 Powelton Avenue, Apartment 3F, Philadelphia, PA 19104. My address! I lived there in 1993, 1994, while in the doctoral history program at Temple University.

This little piece of paper reminded me to write about urban alternative lifestyles, John Africa (b. Vincent Leaphart), and MOVE, and also about Detroit's urban gardens and farms. Consider this a reminder of posts to come -- at some point.

MOVE was a community group that set up house in Powelton Village (about a block from where I lived) in the 1970s. They took the name "Africa," much like Malcolm Little had assumed the name "X," and for similar reasons. MOVE was considered provocative enough that in 1978 their house/compound was assaulted by police (one guy I knew who'd witnessed some of the action remembered National Guard-like troops there, too), the Africas were forced out, and some were tried for the killing of a policeman. An even worse sequel ended in 1985 at Osage Avenue, when the local government bombed their new digs and burned down the entire block. Eleven MOVE members died in the onslaught. Nightmare.

Yesterday the oil thing happened in Detroit. In the morning, all but one of the gas stations I drove by were selling unleaded regular gas for under four dollars per gallon. By sundown, nineteen out of the twenty I counted had blown by the four buck mark -- some already as high as $4.19/gallon. May be time to consider riding a horse, expanding an urban garden, or trying alternative living in Detroit . . . . .

Today's Rune: Disruption.


the walking man said...

Erik, you have had an amazing path to view our generations history from. Viet Nam protests, The Philadelphia Africa incidents in your 'hood. Our generations culture think. You are the chronicler of dark and sunny days and it is good to be able to remember our history in this current war.

There are lessons there albeit not easily seen ones without your and others commentary of our past.

Continue on Walking Sage.


Erik Donald France said...

Mark/Walking Man, thanks for your kind comments. I like that -- chronicler ;->

Go Detroit!

Charles Gramlich said...

I remember when they burned down the block. Something else.

Over 4 bucks a galleon. Geeze.

Johnny Yen said...

I remember the bombing of Philadelphia. If I remember, Wilson Goode, who was Philadelphia's first African-American mayor, had just been elected. A lot of people had high hopes for him-- hopes that were dashed by the fiasco at the MOVE compound. If I remember, most of the victims in the fire were children.

I also remember that the thuggish ex-mayor Frank Rizzo ran again for mayor the next election; I guess he figured that by comparison, he looked pretty tame. He died of a heart attack before the election.

The Shell station around the corner from my home has regular unleaded for $4.39 a gallon. Apparently, for various reasons, Chicago has the highest gas prices in the country.